US Postal Service logs all snail mail for law enforcement: The outside of some 160 billion pieces of mail were recorded last year alone – The US Postal Service records the outside of every piece of snail mail processed in the country, allowing employees to retroactively track correspondence at the request of law enforcement and national security agents, according to a published report.
EU to vote to suspend U.S. data sharing agreements, passenger records amid NSA spying scandal – The European Parliament will vote — ironically of all days, on U.S. Independence Day on July 4 — whether existing data sharing agreements between the two continents should be suspended, following allegations that U.S. intelligence spied on EU citizens.
German minister: Stop using U.S. Web services to avoid NSA spying – Germany is one of the most privacy conscious nations in the world, with data and privacy laws stronger than any other in the EU. And amid the NSA spying scandal, the country’s top security chief has warned users to simply avoid U.S. companies. Will that work?
The delightful dozen: 12 fantastic (and free) Windows 8 apps – Whether you’re new to Windows 8 or an old hand who’s already swiped through all the software in our previous app recommendation roundups, it’s a great time to take some fantastic, utterly free Windows 8 apps for a whirl.
How to shoot great fireworks photos with any camera – Independence Day is also unofficially known as barbecue-and-fireworks day—and while I can’t help you grill a better burger, you’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for some quick tips on taking better photos of your local pyrotechnics display. Believe it or not, it’s pretty easy to capture dramatic and vivid fireworks in a photo.
21 Ways to Customize Windows 7 – Microsoft’s most popular OS offers lots of opportunity for customization. Here’s how to personalize everything from the windows’ appearance to the taskbar.
Tech Minute: Golf tech that will improve your game – Golf may be one of the oldest sports, but it does seem to improve with new advances in technology. Better engineered clubs have refined our swings, and fancier golf carts can make playing more enjoyable. In this Tech Minute, CNET’s Kara Tsuboi reports on some techy tools that are sure to better your game.
How to install the WordTwit plugin to automate tweets from WordPress – This step-by-step shows you how to join your WordPress blog and Twitter account to automate tweets.
Fake Twitter-follower market is adapting, growing, and getting ever cheaper – Psst, want to get 1000 followers on Twitter, quick? It’ll cost you: Eleven dollars. As Marketing Land reports, the market for fake followers is flourishing while the prices for these phony fans are coming down, making it easier than ever to boost your tweet cred.
High-tech listening lets police crack down on 4th of July gunfire – In many American cities this Fourth of July, ShotSpotter hears and pinpoints each and every bang — gunshots as well as illegal fireworks.
ACLU: Cops should have a tougher time sucking up 7 months of mobile phone data – The ACLU joined other legal activist groups to file a brief in what they call a potentially pivotal case in determining whether the government needs a warrant to track our mobile phones.
New Rules on Kids’ Online Privacy Require Adults to Pay Attention – New, stronger rules protecting children’s privacy online went into effect July 1. While the goal is to protect kids from aggressive behavioral advertising, implementation is going to be a rocky process if parents don’t pay attention.
Security firm claims 99 percent of Android apps open to takeover – A four-year-old flaw in how Android apps are verified has meant that almost any application can be converted into a Trojan, according to security firm Bluebox Security.
Ubisoft Hack Victims Still at Risk, Even After Changing Passwords – Yesterday, French video game publisher Ubisoft alerted fans that customer information had been accessed by an attacker. The company advises everyone with an Ubisoft account to log in and change their passwords, but victims might have other dangers ahead.
Video streaming service Boxee bows to a TV manufacturing giant – Samsung has acquired the video streaming service Boxee for a reported $30 million, according to reports from AllThingsD and The Marker. The acquisition will likely bolster Samsung’s own proprietary smart TV platform and augment the cable and console services that its televisions feed to living rooms.
Samsung unveils plans to build five new research and development centers – A Samsung official who spoke to The Korea Times revealed that Samsung has plans to build five new Research and Development centers in South Korea, a project that will cost approximately $4.5 billion. The centers will each focus on their own aspects of R&D, with one being used for maximizing creativity, another for study and development of different components and materials.
Twitter moves to cookie-based ads, bans automated following – A new trial will show personalised ads for US users, as well as bringing a raft of minor changes to the way that tweets are displayed on external sites.
Apple sued by Boston University over semiconductor patent infringement – In what is probably the most interesting patent lawsuit we’ve seen in a while. Boston University is suing Apple over claims that the company is infringing on a patent that the university obtained in 1997 dealing with a method of making thin and compact semiconductors that can produce blue lasers on the cheap.
Ex-Windows 8 chief agrees not to badmouth Microsoft, gets stock payout – Microsoft’s former head of Windows 8 development has agreed not to badmouth Microsoft or work for some of its competitors and in return will receive a payout for unvested stock in the company, according to a regulatory filing Wednesday.
Microsoft Secure Boot – Microsoft Secure Boot is a component of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system that relies on the UEFI specification’s secure boot functionality to help prevent malicious software applications and “unauthorized” operating systems from loading during the system start-up process. While there is some concern that Microsoft Secure Boot will make it difficult to install Linux or other operating systems on a Windows 8 computer, the secure boot functionality in Windows 8 is primarily designed to protect users from rootkits and other low-level malware attacks by blocking unauthorized (non-signed) executables and drivers from being loaded during the boot process. Personal computers bearing the Windows 8-certified logo will be required to ship with Microsoft Secure Boot enabled.
Games and Entertainment:
Try 11 free Windows 8 games for frugal fun – Enjoy word and math games, classics like Minesweeper, and even RPGs.
Warner Bros. iOS games on sale for 99 cents – If you’re big into Superman, Batman, and Harry Potter, it’s time to start searching the couch cushions for loose change.
Strewth! Aussie accent confirmed for Mad Max game – Aussie fans emerge victorious after taking game developer Avalanche Studios to the Thunderdome for plans to give Max an American accent in the game version of the classic Australian film.
Xbox One to get reputation system in Xbox Live to encourage good behavior – It’s no secret that Xbox Live is filled with all sorts of mean people. While many of these young, naive gamers are laughable at times, cyber-bullying has been proven to be a pretty serious matter. In order to get gamers to behave on Xbox Live, Microsoft is looking into a reputation system to add into Xbox Live with the Xbox One.
Everything that went wrong with SimCity – EA and Maxis really messed up the launch of SimCity, and the game continues to have its problems. We look at everything that has gone wrong with the game so far.
Walking Dead publisher drops DRM – The third-largest comics publisher after Marvel and DC, Image Comics decides that it’s time to ditch digital rights management on its books.
Off Topic (Sort of):
Australians encouraged to bypass Netflix geo-block – Consumer lobby group Choice has encouraged Australian consumers to find ways around the Netflix geo-block so that they can use the service in Australia, but the legality of the bypass remains questionable.
Can scientists predict a suicide from Facebook statuses? – People may be committing thought crime against themselves before they even know it.
Susy and her father Mark Twain as Hero and Leander (picture) – During their stay at an artists’ retreat in New York State, Twain enjoyed improvising plays with his daughters. Here he appeared as Leander, outfitted with a hot-water bag, who tried to swim the Hellespont to snatch a kiss from his beloved Hero. (suggested by Michael F.)
Doug Engelbart, inventor of the mouse, passes at 88 – Though trackpads and touchscreens are slowly replacing the industrious little device, we’ve all used a mouse at one point or another, and they can found in tens of thousands of offices and homes across the globe, having served as a vital bit of modern computing for decades. Last night, the device’s inventor, Doug Engelbart, passed away at the age of 88 in his sleep.
For mobile devices, size does matter – Mobile phones started out as brick-heavy, full-sized behemoths. Then they were tiny candy-bar sized toys. Now we’re on the grow again. How big is too big for mobile devices? And how small is too small?
From Morse code to Marimba: The noisy history of tech alerts – Since we invented communications devices, we’ve had to come up with ways they can let us know we should pay attention to them. Based on what we see in the world today, maybe they do too good a job.
Big guns of the Civil War (pictures) – On the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg this week, we look at some artillery pieces and other weapons from the American Civil War.
Something to think about:
“We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.”
– William Faulkner
Today’s Free Downloads:
Attribute Changer 7.10d – Powerful Windows Explorer add-on, available at your fingertips whenever you right-click on files, folders and even drives in Windows Explorer.
Icaros – Icaros can provide Windows Explorer thumbnails, for essentially any video media format supported by Ffmpeg. This includes popular filetypes such as: Mkv, Flv, Avi, Mp4, Mov, Rmvb, M2ts, Ogm etc. Besides the FFmpeg supported filetypes, Icaros also contains custom parsers, which can produce Cover Art thumbnails for Mkv, Flac, Ape, and Mpc files. Icaros also provides Windows Explorer properties for the following popular filetypes: Mkv, Flv, Ogm, Ogv, Ogg, Flac, Ape, and Mpc.
Skype for Android – Make free Skype-to-Skype video calls, and call phones at Skype rates on the move. Skype for Android lets you make free voice and video Skype-to-Skype calls, and call phones and landlines at great Skype rates on the move. Video calling now supported on more Android phones.